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Raspberry Pi Pico Powers Custom Pop'n Music Controller

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: Charlie Cole)

Rhythm games are just as fun now as they were when Pop'n Music was released in 1998—except now you can throw in a Raspberry Pi Pico project into the mix. Maker Charlie Cole is using a Pico as the main driver board for a custom Pop'n Music Dreamcast controller.

According to Cole, the physical construction of the controller was completed a few years ago but the project was put on hiatus until the Raspberry Pi Pico was released. The PIO appeared to be ideal for the controller needs and thus development began on wiring the buttons to the Pico for interfacing with the Dreamcast.

All of the LEDs are controlled using PWM channels and feature a fade animation after each button press. The controller base was designed in Fusion 360 and laser cut from many 6mm MDF slices. The artwork was printed on normal paper while the top layer is acrylic.

The buttons used are just generic arcade buttons measuring in at 100mm across. They're appropriately colored and aligned to match the original arcade and controller layout. The only thing Cole mentioned he would change in future iterations is the addition of a Start button.

The Sega Dreamcast uses a protocol called Maple Bus for interfacing with controllers. It wasn't easy to get the Pico's PIO to work with it, but Cole made it happen. The end result is a functional Pop'n Music controller that can be plugged into and used with a Sega Dreamcast.

You can read more about the project in detail on Cole's official GitHub. Be sure to check out our list of Best Raspberry Pi Projects for more creations from the maker community.